Social Security beneficiaries to get biggest bump in seven years

Retirement benefits slated to rise 2.8% in 2019

Retired Americans who collect Social Security can look forward in 2019 to the biggest increase in benefits in seven years.

Retirement benefits are slated to rise 2.8% next year, based on the formula that determines annual cost-of-living adjustments in Social Security. It’s the biggest gain since a 3.6% advance in 2012.

The government made it official on Thursday after the release of September’s consumer price index. Increases in Social Security benefits are tied to the CPI.

In 2018 the average beneficiary got about $1,405 a month. A 2.8% increase would amount to just over $39 a month or around $472 over a year.

The increase in 2019 is sure to be welcomed by the 60 million-plus Americans who receive Social Security benefits. Benefits rose 2% in 2018 and just 0.3% in 2017.

In theory benefits are merely supposed to keep up with inflation, but some retirees are more affected by inflation than others.

Retirees who are healthy, own their own homes and don’t drive much are likely fare best. But those who rent, drive frequently or need lots of medical care won’t do as well.

How come? Much of the increase in inflation this year is tied to higher rents, gasoline prices and health care. For seniors who spend a lot of money on those things, the increase in Social benefits probably won’t cover all their expenses.

The annual cost of living increase is determined by taking the average rate of inflation from July through September and comparing it the same three-month period a year earlier, using an index known as CPI-W.

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